Running: Marathoner Mok Ying Ren just misses Rio Olympics qualifying mark

Mok's Ottawa result was his best time since he set his personal best three years ago.
Mok's Ottawa result was his best time since he set his personal best three years ago.PHOTO: MOK YING REN

Marathoner is 2 spots off top 10 in Ottawa, ends qualifying bid but is keen for 2020 push

Racing in an uncharacteristically hot and humid Ottawa yesterday, national marathoner Mok Ying Ren came agonisingly close to running his way from the Canadian capital to August's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

However, after finishing 12th in the Ottawa Marathon - just two places short of meeting the Olympic qualifying standard - the 27-year-old drew his four-year bid at making the Rio Games to a close.

While his time of 2hr 27min 2sec was some way off the qualifying mark of 2:19, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), top 10 finishers at Gold Label events held within the qualifying window (open until July 11) are also considered to have met the mark. The Ottawa race was awarded the status last year.

The conditions in Ottawa, however, worked against Mok.

With temperatures expected to soar to 31 deg C, organisers made a late decision to alter the start times of the 10km and half-marathon races to help runners cope with the heat, even adding misting stations along the race routes.

Mok, the 2013 SEA Games champion, who consistently chased down the leaders from the halfway mark, sounded disappointed when he spoke to The Straits Times.

He said: "It got much more humid in the second half and it just took a toll. But that's how marathons are, there are always things you can't control."

While there is time before the qualifying window closes on July 11 - and despite a favoured Gold Coast Airport Marathon (July 3) still on the horizon - Mok said that there is insufficient time for his body to recover and take the pounding of another 42.195km race.

The orthopaedic surgeon resident had struggled with numerous injuries before putting his medical career on hold for the past year to train full-time in Boulder, Colorado, under Australia's Lee Troop, a three-time Olympic marathoner.

The bold move has taught Mok precious lessons, even if it did not reap him an Olympic berth.

He said: "There were so many ups and downs since I started to campaign for Rio. I didn't get the result I wanted, but the learning process was good.

"Before this, I was injured every year and I just couldn't find the rhythm to train consistently. Now I've figured out the kind of training my body can tolerate, and I'm excited to see where consistent running can get me in a few years."

Yesterday's race is Mok's best marathon result since running his personal-best of 2:26:30 in Gold Coast three years ago, as well as a considerable improvement over the 2:35 clocked in Japan in March. It also follows a national-best time (1:07:08) in the half marathon in Arizona this January.

So despite missing out this time, Mok said the door on making another push in four years is not closed.

He said: "The passion is still burning in me and I don't think I've fulfilled my potential in running. I think I have better runs in me."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2016, with the headline 'Mok just misses Rio mark'. Print Edition | Subscribe